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Beyond the language controversy

Education in India will reach new heights if the recommendations of the New Education Policy (NEP) are implemented.

Nearly 80 per cent of students in higher education are enrolled in affiliated colleges, which merely act as coaching centers and examination conducting body for the parent university. The most significant proposal of the NEP is to get rid of the affiliation system of colleges, which has been the bane of higher education in India. This is the colonial legacy persisting only in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

The NEP recommends that all higher education institutions will either be universities or degree-granting autonomous colleges and there will be no affiliating universities or affiliated colleges. All affiliating universities shall transform their institutional structure so that there will be no affiliated colleges. All affiliated colleges, must develop into an autonomous degree granting colleges by 2032, or merge with the university that they are affiliated to, or form into a university themselves.

No Mono-field HEIs

The second recommendation is the abolition of single discipline universities. So the Tamil Nadu Music and Fine Arts University that offers degrees in M.A and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) besides Ph.D. will have to close shop in its present form. Several states have exclusive technical universities which are either unitary or affiliating. Many states have separate health universities. The practice of setting up stand-alone universities for professional education will be discontinued. All institutions offering either professional or general education must organically evolve into institutions offering both, seamlessly by 2030.

NEP recommends that single-stream HEIs will be phased out, and they will move towards becoming multidisciplinary. By 2030, they will develop into one of three types of institutions as follows:

Research universities: These will focus on research and teaching: they will dedicate themselves to cutting-edge research for new knowledge creation while at the same time offering the highest quality teaching across undergraduate, masters, Ph.D., professional and vocational programs.

Teaching universities: These will focus on high-quality teaching across disciplines and programs, while also significantly contributing to cutting-edge research. Such institutions will target enrolments between 5000 and 25,000.

Colleges: These will focus exclusively on the goal of high-quality teaching. These will include mostly undergraduate programs, in addition to diploma and certificate programs, across disciplines and fields, including vocational and professional. A large number of such autonomous colleges say 5000–10,000, will provide high quality, liberal undergraduate education, with on-campus enrolments of 2000– 5000.

RESTORING INTEGRITY TO TEACHER EDUCATION

Many of the difficulties relating to the quality of education available to students today can be traced to the systemic neglect of teacher education that has taken place over several decades. Most current teacher preparation programs build microscopic perspective or capability; curriculum and classroom processes are mostly outdated and distanced from the reality of the schools and the children that they supposedly serve. The faculty members of teacher education institutes are mostly isolated from the broader community of researchers and educators.

All teacher education institutions (TEIs) will be held accountable for adherence to the essential criteria of approval of their programs. By 2023, all teacher education will happen in multidisciplinary institutions. Teacher education will be an integral part of the higher education system. In the long term, the minimum requirement for all permanent tenured teachers will be the four-year integrated B.Ed. degree.

THE NEW REGULATOR

The functions of standard setting, funding, accreditation, and regulation will be separated and be conducted by independent bodies, eliminating the concentration of power and conflicts of interest. The National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) will be the only regulator for all higher education, including professional education.
The current UGC shall transform into the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC).

The HEGC shall be responsible for disbursing developmental grants and fellowships across the entire higher education sector, including professional education.
It will be necessary to reduce curriculum load in each subject to its essential core content, to make space for more holistic, experiential, discussion-based, and analysis-based learning. All students will have the opportunity to engage deeply in the arts and humanities as well as in the study of the sciences and social sciences.

APEX BODY

A new apex body, the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA) or National Education Commission, will be constituted. It will be headed by the Prime Minister. The RSA will be responsible for developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis. It will also create and oversee the institutional frameworks that will help achieve this vision.

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